The European Space Agency Web TV releases a video of Henderson Island, highlighting that it has never recovered from being gravely polluted by plastic waste.

The video features recent Sentinel-2 satellite image of Henderson Island, a world heritage site situated about halfway between Chile and New Zealand. The video was released in time for Earth Day 2018 and dedicated to informing people about the harmful impacts of plastic usage to the environment.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization highlights that marine pollution is one of the problems faced by many world heritage sites. Henderson Island, specifically, has continued to struggle with plastic pollution. A 2017 study highlighted it as the most plastic-polluted place anywhere in the world.

The study estimated that 37.7 million debris items, weighing a total of 17.6 tons are scattered on Henderson. Accordingly, up to 26.8 meters of new plastic items are accumulating daily.

Henderson Island Pollution

ESA highlights that Henderson is one of the best examples of a coral atoll and one of the world's biggest marine reserves. However, plastic trash as far as Russia, United States, Europe, and South American end up on the island. The place could have been idyllic and pristine, especially that the island remains untouched by humans.

In a worldwide level, around 10 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year. They continue to be a threat to wildlife and the ecosystem even if weathering and waves break them down into micro-fragments. Animals, particularly the endangered ones, can easily mistake them for food. Plastic waste can also damage the corals.

World's Most Plastic-Polluted Land Mass

In 2017, a study headed by Dr. Jennifer Lavers, a conservation biologist at the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, detailed how serious was the situation on Henderson Island.

Lavers and her team found that the 17.6 tons of plastic waste found in the island accounted for 1.98 seconds worth of the annual global production of plastic recorded that year. To describe the severity of the situation, she shared that a 5-person team surveyed a 10-meter section of the beach for a total of six hours. At the time, the team estimated that there are about 17 to 268 new items that end up on that portion of the island on a day-to-day basis.

Interestingly, only 7 percent of the plastic items came from fishing supplies. The rest of the items were household items like used toothbrushes, plastic scoops for detergents and baby formula, and soiled diapers.

Lavers warned that fishes, the one at the base of the food web, ate most of these plastic wastes. Humans, the ones at the top of the chain, may, therefore, end up consuming these toxic wastes as well.

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